Best UI Tools and Rising Alternatives
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Software design has come a long way over the last decade. Now, designers have a wide assortment of available tools. As a result, processes are easier, faster, and more efficient. These tools can help through initial sketching and prototyping stages. But, also, they can ease the actual coding and development process. This is possible by creating specifications and generating code snippets. Here, we’ll focus on the best software design tools out there. These include different features for different technical and financial needs.
Figma is an online platform for UI design, launched in 2016. Its original idea was first born, in 2011, with the question “Could tools for designers be built on the web?”. Turns out, the answer was yes. As a result, Figma combines design, real-time collaborative editing and prototyping. With it, it opens up a new world of possibilities. The web platform has some powerful features. To name a few, it has instant art designs, modern pen tools, and plugins. Furthermore, it has accessible libraries, flexible styles and OpenType. Its main focus is on collaboration, open-source ideals and community. That’s a huge part of what makes Figma a great tool to work with.
Recently, Figma has introduced FigJam. This online whiteboard allows teams to come up with ideas and brainstorm together. With it, you can map user flows, and processes and systems. Also, you can access templates for diagramming, design sprints and mood boards. Another great benefit is its very open and collaborative community. You can find many already-made files, wireframes, plugins, and widgets. For instance, plugins such as Unsplash and Anima, and widgets like Poll or Timeline.
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Launched in 2016, Adobe XD usage includes web, app, branding, and gaming UX design. This software has some interesting features, like 3D transforms, and content-aware layout. Also, the design tool has components, states, and repeat greed. Furthermore, it makes it possible to import content from Photoshop, Illustrator and Sketch.
If that wasn’t enough, it also has auto-animation, vice prototyping, and cloud documents. Moreover, it integrates with over 250 plugins. Another great perk of Adobe XD is that it’s not only available in English. Instead, you can find versions in French, German, Korean, Japanese and Chinese.
In case you aren’t quite sure, you can take advantage of Adobe XD’s free 7-day trial. Then, it costs $9.99 per month. Another option is to include the whole suite of Adobe’s Creative Cloud apps, which starts at $52.99 per month. This suite includes apps like Photoshop, After Effects and InDesign.
InVision is a web-based prototyping, collaboration and workflow tool. Nowadays, it has over 7 million users worldwide, including most Fortune 100 companies. For instance, these include IBM, Netflix and Slack. Among its offerings, it has various products. These depend on things like the stage of the software design project, and designers’ needs. As a result, it has three categories: Freehand, Cloud and Studio.
Freehand is an online whiteboard with pre-made and custom templates. It includes voting and exporting features, version history and integrations. As well, it has advanced features for enterprise users. It offers a free plan for individuals and a Pro Plan at $4-4.95/month per user. Cloud offers a collaborative prototype builder, and a craft manager. Also, it has a spaces designer and a freehand whiteboard. Furthermore, it offers integrations with Photoshop, Jira, Storybook, and many more. In terms of payment, it has a free plan for individuals, and a Pro Plan at $7.95-9.95/month per user. Finally, Studio is free to download. It’s used for design and animation with powerful vector editing. Moreover, it has adaptive layout, interactive design, and built-in animation.
In summary, InVision offers design models, handbooks and podcasts. Those can help you through the whole design process. Also, it hosts webinars and virtual events for its users to learn and collaborate. Among these, some topics include visual collaborations and design systems.
Sketch is the most specific software design tool in this list. A reason for this is that its main use is the design of native macOS apps. What’s more, it’s both known for being simple and easy to use. It’s a great tool for UI and UX design for mobile, web and desktop apps. Some of the companies that use it include Facebook, Google and Xbox.
The platform offers an amazing real-time collaboration. As well, it’s compatible with industry tools like ProtoPie and Maze. Furthermore, it has extensions for workflow’s customization, like Pexels and Plant. Other features include a flexible vector-editing combined with a pixel-level precision design. Also, it has Variable and OpenType fonts, reusable and smart components, and testing options. If you need it, you can find comprehensive documentation on Sketch’s site. Further, they held events and meetups for their community. This allows them to share experiences and learn from each other.
If you’re having doubts, you can use Sketch’s free trial. After that, you can choose between Standard and Business plans. At first, Standard Plan costs $9/month or $99/year per editor. Along its features, it offers unlimited documents and projects, work history, and shared libraries. Also, it has a native Mac editor, design inspection, asset download, and team comments. Yet, Business Plan has customizable prices, according to different needs and priorities. Further, it adds priority support, single-sign-on and customizable security reviews and terms.
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Axure RP released in 2019, so it’s kind of new. Yet, it’s a great tool for prototyping, including rich web apps. Also, it’s an excellent tool for team collaboration, as several people can work on the same file at the same time. Not to mention you can easily share your prototypes with Axure Cloud. Among its features, it has interaction events, and conditional logic. Also, it includes working forms, multi-state containers and adaptive views. UX designers can create diagrams, customer journeys and wireframes. Moreover, the tool allows integration with some of other software design tools. For instance, it integrates with Figma, Sketch and Adobe XD. Moreover, Jira, Confluence and Slack are some of the other integrations it offers. The platform has a lot of widget libraries, documentation and its own forum —you can find it all here—.
It also offers a free 30-day trial, after which you can choose between its Pro and Team plans. Pro Plan costs $25-$29 per month per user. It includes unlimited prototypes and reviewers, and up to 1,000 projects on Cloud. Also, it offers wireframes, diagrams and documentation. The Team plan costs $42-49 per month per user. Further Pro features, it adds co-authoring, and team project hosting on Cloud. There are also specialized features among its Enterprise Plan.
MockPlus is a UI design platform, used for interactive prototyping, and unified collaborations. It offers pre-built components, icons and drag-and-drop functionalities, among many other features. As a software design tool, it offers two main products. Those are MockPlus Classic and MockPlus Cloud.
Its Cloud has constructive product flow, code snippets, and Figma and Sketch’s plugins. This version is useful for product managers, designers, and front-end developers. That’s because it’s a very comprehensive platform to use. Also, it offers a free basic plan with limited features, and then plans starting at $71.4/year. When it comes to Classic, it offers a 15-free trial and then starts at $199/year for individuals. What’s even more, MockPlus offers a design system manager for better teamwork. For instance, you can create scalable design systems, and share visual languages with a team. As a result, the design-to-code workflow becomes much smoother and faster.
MockFlow is an easy-to-use design solution focused on wireframing and product design. Its wireframing provides a digital whiteboard to visualize your UI. Also, it has thousands of pre-built components, and preview and iteration capabilities. Further, you can collaborate and provide feedback. Finally, you can add power-ups for prototyping, code snippets, and markups. When it comes to its product design, it includes spaces for web design, mobile apps, SaaS apps, and branding. In this case, power-ups include site maps, personas, documentation, proposals and prototypes. MockFlow also integrates with Windows, macOS, Slack, and Jira, among other softwares.
It offers four plans: Basic, Wireframing, Product Design and Enterprise. First, Basic is free and quite simple: including 1 UI drawing project and 5 reviewers. Second, Wireframing costs $14 per editor per month, and allows for up to 5 design files, 5 embed, and 2 power-ups. It also includes revision history, a style guide and various integrations. As a counterpart, Product Design’s price is $16 per editor per month. While it has no restrictions, it also adds a Photoshop plugin and a prototype. If you want Enterprise, you’ll need to request a note. But, it comes with all the perks MockFlow has to offer.
WonderShare Mockitt allows you to create interactive and animated prototypes. As well, it includes flowcharts and graphic design. Also, it supports real-time comments, mind maps for brainstorming, team libraries and specifications. This tool is both quite comprehensive and easy to use.
It has a limited time-free trial, but it offers several plans for different purposes. Those include individuals, teams and businesses. Moreover, it has plans that gaze at students and teachers. In summary, teams and businesses can sign up for a $99/user yearly plan and students get special offers. Finally, you can find a blog and a user guide on the website. Besides, the WonderShare community is always collaborating with new components and resources. You can take a peek here!
Infragistics built this software design tool for fast and code-free prototyping. With Indigo.Design, you can create static wireframes and clickable mockups. It also offers interactional design-prototyping. As a powerful tool, it has some major perks that set it apart from the rest. For instance, its user testing capabilities allow you to get feedback on your design. Also, you can generate code to develop apps. Its platform comes with a free 30-day trial, after which you can opt for one of its paid subscriptions. Indigo.Design Essential includes cloud prototyping for web, mobile and desktop projects. Also, it has remote user testing and analytics. What’s even more, it allows video replays for user tests, and group and team collaboration. Indigo.Design adds UI kits, the WYSIWYG Drag & Drop Web App Builder and the CodeGen Plug-In for Visual Studio Code.
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As you can see, there are plenty of software design tools to choose from depending on your specific needs. Moreover, many of them are switchable and combinable, through integrations and exporting features. As a result, you can take even more advantage of different design elements. We hope our list of best software design tools has given you an overview of what’s available. Which one’s your favorite? Which one do you think fits the best with your team and your design workflow?
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